Statement of the LGBT “Nash Mir” Center regarding the shocking raid of the Ukrainian police to gay club in the city of Dnipro

24 April, 2019 | News

LGBT Human Rights Nash Mir Center
coordinator@gay.org.ua
www.gay.org.ua

On the night from 19th to 20th April, the police in Dnipro city conducted a homophobic raid on a local gay club “Potemkin”. About 1 a.m., 20-25 police officers burst into the night club, compelled all those present to lie down on the floor (about 25 visitors + the club staff), and did not allow anyone to get up for three hours while opening all windows (the night temperature was not above +5). The police seized mobile phones from all present people, and some things disappeared from the cloakroom. The club staff also claimed about the loss of some club’s equipment. Except the mobile phones, no disappeared things were included in the list of the seized things.

According to eyewitnesses, police officers behaved in very aggressive and homophobic way, expressed insults and jokes related to sexual orientation, and forced two foreigners, who at that time were in the club, to loudly sing the anthem of Ukraine. They also inflicted injuries to one of the club’s visitors. The club’s owners and some visitors filed applications on illegal actions of the police to Sobornе Police Department in Dnipro city.

This attack, as it turned out, was called a search within a pre-trial investigation initiated under Part 2 of Article 302 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine “Creating or running brothels and trading in prostitution.”[1] Today the website of the National Police of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk oblast presented the explanation of this police action: https://dp.npu.gov.ua/news/Informacziya/u-dnipri-policzejski-vikrili-osib-yaki-stvorili-u-nichnomu-klubi-miscze-rozpusti/

It turns out that the National Police of Ukraine considers sexual contacts of adult men as immoral acts, a regular activity of a night club (dances and shows) as a criminal offense, and distribution of condoms as promoting debauchery. This explanation provides no evidences of breaching Article 302 of the Criminal Code. The police also provided no explanation of their clearly illegal, unprofessional and unethical actions, harassment of the club’s visitors who were not accused of any crime.

We strongly condemn these obviously homophobic and illegal actions of the police in Dnipro city. At the time when there is no shortage of genuine criminal offenses in Ukraine, including hate crimes based on sexual orientation, the police actually engaged in the fight against gay sex between adult men by mutual agreement!

We want to separately emphasize that to prosecute so-called “distribution of pornography” and “running brothels” (Articles 301 and 302 of the Criminal Code respectively) is an anachronism in the modern democratic world and an instrument of selective pressure if this affects the voluntary actions of adult individuals.

Nash Mir Center appealed to the command of the National Police of Ukraine, the command of the police in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights to check the facts provided by victims of the police action and, if they are confirmed, to bring the offenders to account. In our opinion, this blatant case only underscores the urgent need to implement effective reforms of criminal law, the law enforcement system, and of consistent fight against manifestations of homophobia in Ukraine.

[1]     Criminal Code of Ukraine, Article 302, Part 2:
Creating or running brothels, and also trading in prostitution, actions committed for gainful purposes, or by a person previously convicted of this offense, or by an organized group, –
shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term up to five years, or imprisonment for the same term.